For the past couple of weeks, I have felt a nudging to spend some time writing again. I have told God that I have nothing worthwhile to write about. He seems to think otherwise.
You see…I lost my voice. And I didn’t just lose my voice, but most importantly, I lost myself too. It happened so gradually and covertly that I didn’t even really notice. And when I finally did notice, I was surprised! God and my family were not.
I loved my career in vocational ministry. Specifically, women’s ministry. I oversaw a thriving ministry at a large church. I spent 19 years pouring myself into this ministry, with the last 6 of them becoming the pastor to all these amazing women. It was awesome! I truly felt it was my calling and I got to use all the gifts that God gave me.
I also fell in love with backpacking and hiking. I was the one that actually talked my husband into it. He quickly found joy in this new hobby as well. We craved that time we had out in the backcountry. No cell phones, emails, or worries about the “real world”. It could just be the two of us hiking for hours and barely speaking a word to each other. It was heaven! I started a blog and enjoyed documenting our adventures for others to follow along from the comfort of their couches.
I used to lovingly and painstakingly plan out our trips to the most microscopic detail. My husband’s job at that time was mentally and physically demanding, so I really looked forward to our times away. Those were the times that I got my husband back. The one I married over 30 years ago. The spontaneous, adventurous, humorous guy I fell in love with. We completely reconnected on those trips and we both eagerly looked forward to them.
Then a funny thing happened…things started to shift. The ministry I was overseeing was growing, but my staff position was not going to. I had always grown up hearing that actions speak louder than words, so I just worked harder and longer hoping someone would take notice. I would be appreciated. The ministry I was overseeing would be appreciated and could get more staffing. And when none of this happened, I still worked on and pushed harder, because I am working for God, right? I have a job many others want to have. I love my job and all the women I oversee. I’m living the dream! I am “on call” 24/7 for what anyone needs me to do. I am ignoring my family. My marriage is taking a huge dive. I no longer have the time to do the things I once loved to do. I have no time for friends (unless you are part of the ministry or a co-worker). I desperately dream of hiking trips, but fail to plan them well. When we do go hiking, I’m still on call and working. I am no longer present in any moment. I am not sleeping well or eating well. I no longer belly laugh or laugh much at all. I am crying all the time (and I’m not a crier). I am living in a complete fog. But not many know it, because I just keep on going or the ones who do know, think I will be fine. Because I am always fine. I always have it together. Until I don’t. I’m drowning and no one is throwing me a life preserver. Finally…I sit down and try to put my thoughts into words and I am totally empty. I have nothing to say. I have lost my voice and I have totally and completely lost myself.
God, my husband, and much wise counsel made it clear to me that it was time to step back and step out of my job. It was the hardest thing I have ever done. Since then, I have been grieving a huge loss. The loss of my church, my career, my co-workers, and even some friends. It is a painful process to be put through God’s refining fire. I think anyone who has gone through it, does not have fond memories of it. At first, I could barely get out of my pajamas or stop crying. But ever so slowly, over these past couple of months, some of the fog is lifting. My family is finally seeing glimpses of “me” again. I laugh now, but still cry often. On good days, I can look back and see how unhealthy my situation was. I now try to sleep when I need it and I take joy in the simple things in life…cause every day is a Saturday for me…Ha Ha! I have decided to call 2018/2019 the dark years and as I enter into 2020, I have many changes ahead that scare the crap out of me. I am not good with big changes, but God is. We are entering a new season in our lives. It is soo hard to let go of the familiar. For what I know is safe and I have control over. To let go of relationships and possibly saying “goodbye for now” to family. But I don’t want to have any regrets that I did not live this next season of life to its fullest. I want to give God all the credit for where He is taking us…physically and spiritually. I am praying that it is full of backpacking, hiking, and lots of adventures. I am ready to find my voice again. I am ready to write again. And I am ready to discover the new and “refined” version of me.